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University of Maryland reverses course, fires D.J. Durkin as head football coach

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University of Maryland reverses course, fires D.J. Durkin as head football coach

The University of Maryland is changing its course. A day after the university decided to reinstate D.J. Durkin as head football coach, the Board of Regents is reversing course, firing Durkin on Wednesday night, a university spokeswoman told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg.

The backlash to Maryland's decision was swift and loud. Whether or not that led the University to change its decision is not yet known. But what is known is that university president Wallace Loh was in favor of firing Durkin, with the board of trustees forcing his hand to keep Durkin. What we also know is that several Maryland football players walked out of the Tuesday press conference out of anger and disgust.

Even Maryland governor Larry Hogan urged the university to reconsider its decision to retain Durkin as head football coach on Tuesday afternoon. The third-year coach was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11 following the June death of sophomore offensive tackle Jordan McNair.

Hogan was direct in suggesting Maryland to strongly reconsider its choice. "University leadership still faces the considerable challenge of restoring the trust of students, families, and faculty, and proving that there is and will be accountability for any actions that adversely impact student welfare and the standing of our flagship university," Hogan said, via the Associated Press.

"The addition of an oversight board seems to be a positive step, but many will understandably question whether enough has been done to address the serious concerns that exist among many in the College Park community -- I am one of them."

Late Wednesday night, Loh issued a letter to the University of Maryland community.

Dear University of Maryland community,

I am writing to inform you of actions I am taking that are in the best interest of the University of Maryland.
Yesterday, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced numerous recommendations, including employment decisions about specific personnel on our campus. I accepted the Board’s recommendations. At the same time, I announced my retirement as president in June 2019.
Since returning to campus after yesterday’s press conference, I have met with the leadership of the Student Government Association speaking on behalf of numerous student organizations; the Senate Executive Committee; Deans; department chairs; and campus leadership. The overwhelming majority of stakeholders expressed serious concerns about Coach DJ Durkin returning to the campus.

The chair of the Board of Regents has publicly acknowledged that I had previously raised serious concerns about Coach Durkin’s return. This is not at all a reflection of my opinion of Coach Durkin as a person. However, a departure is in the best interest of the University, and this afternoon Coach Durkin was informed that the University will part ways.

This is a difficult decision, but it is the right one for our entire University. I will devote the remaining months of my presidency to advancing the needed reforms in our Athletic Department that prioritize the safety and well-being of our student-athletes.

Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland

The university is not firing Durkin with cause, according to Rick Maese. Instead, the school will buy out Durkin of his remaining contract. 

Matt Canada, who has led the Terps to a 5-3 record in Durkin's absence, will remain head coach on an interim basis.

The Terrapins host Michigan State on Saturday at noon.

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D.J. Durkin to remain as Maryland football coach; university makes no major immediate changes


D.J. Durkin to remain as Maryland football coach; university makes no major immediate changes

The University of Maryland's Board of Regents is not making any major administrative changes to its athletic program in the wake of Jordan McNair's death, the university announced on Tuesday.

University president Wallace Loh, athletic director Damon Evans and head football coach D.J. Durkin will remain at the university. Loh is set to retire in June. 

Furthermore, Durkin is reportedly expected to return to the sidelines for the Terrapins when they host Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Noon.

The decision comes as a result of the university's findings and a public report into the culture of the Terrapins football program following the June 13 death of the sophomore offensive tackle.

McNair's died as the result of a heat stroke that occurred during a May 29 workout. Collapsing on the field due to exhaustion, the 19-year-old suffered a seizure and the authorities were not contacted for nearly an hour. He appeared in just one game during his freshman season with the Terps following a standout high school career at The McDonough School. McNair chose Maryland over the likes of Ohio State, Auburn, Penn State and Rutgers.

On Aug. 11, the university accepted the forced resignation from Terrapins strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, and formally placed Durkin on administrative leave. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was named interim head coach and has since guided the Terps to a 5-3 record through the first nine weeks of the 2018 season.

"I am profoundly disturbed by the media reports yesterday about verbally abusive and intimidating conduct by Maryland football coaches and staff towards our student-athletes on the team.," Loh said at the time of the university's decision to place Durkin on administrative leave.

Loh, according to a Washington Post report, was against the idea of retaining Durkin as the Terrapins' head coach. 

"It was made clear that if he [Loh] want to remain in his position, he had no option," a source told The Post. "He ultimately felt it would've been tremendously disruptive to the entire campus if he was to be terminated simply because he wouldn't put the coach back on the field ..."

Durkin was hired by the university on Dec. 2, 2015 following his lone season as defensive coordinator for the Michigan Wolverines.

The Terrapins are 10-15 in games with Durkin as head coach.


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As one of the most penalized teams in college football, Maryland's penalty woes showed vs. Michigan

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As one of the most penalized teams in college football, Maryland's penalty woes showed vs. Michigan

On the field, it has been a season of ups and downs for the Maryland Terrapins. On Saturday, it became evident that the team's penalty issues are at epic proportions based on their loss to Michigan.

This season, Maryland is one of the most penalized teams in all of Division I football. 

No matter if the penalties are coming in wins or in losses, yellow flags have forced Maryland to dig themselves out of holes this season. Quickly these holes become insurmountable with the inconsistent offense the Terps have this season. 

Below is where they stand on the NCAA FBS Division I leaderboard:

  • Penalties per game (4th worst) - 9.8 penalties
  • Penalty yards per game (3rd worst) - 93.8 yards
  • 7 penalties per 100 plays (t-worst) 

This past Saturday against Michigan, their penalties were a significant factor in a loss for the first time this season. Twelve times the Terps were flagged, costing them 107 yards. 

The first major penalty was just after the Terps got a big kickoff return for a touchdown by Ty Johnson to give them an early 7-3 lead. Two scrimmage plays later, Darnell Savage got his second interception of the season on Michigan's side of the field with the upset in full swing. A holding penalty on the return pushed the Terps back to midfield where they would go three-and-out. 

That mistake, although minuscule at the time, cannot happen on the road against a top-25 opponent. A momentum-swinging play was diminished by the penalty and kept them from adding to their lead.  

The offense though was responsible for most of the dirty laundry on the field. Of their 12 penalties, half of them were on the offense. Five of those six were detrimental to their success. 

A holding penalty in the second quarter prevented the Terps from having the chance to answer Michigan's first touchdown of the game.

On the first drive of the second half for the Terps, three penalties in the first four plays pushed them back to a 4th-and-36. 

Although they converted a fourth-and-6 in the red zone, they got pushed back to that mark because of a false start the play prior. This was their first drive of the fourth where they were behind by three scores and desperately trying to come back.

In their Week 1 shocking upset over the ranked Texas Longhorns the team had eight penalties for 70 yards. This was the only game that their opponent committed more penalties.

The next week at Bowling Green (14 for 139 yards) was worse, at home vs. Temple (five penalties, 35 yards) and at Minnesota (10 penalties, 118 yards).

Currently, the team is sitting at 3-2 with a win over the No. 9 team in the country, Texas. Considering everything that has happened, and they are under interim head coach Matt Canada, they are rising above expectations. 

But by no means are there many confident in how the Terps have played this season. Mostly that is due to these penalties.